a busy domestic blog of knitting, sewing and all kinds of needlecrafts, cooking my garden produce and preserving it

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Saving for winter

We seem, rather happily, to be inundated with produce this year, well, some sorts of veg - beetroot, runner beans, apples and tomatoes mainly.

The beetroot and apples are stored where-ever I can find space - in boxes, baskets, bags - whatever I can find. The beans have had to go in the freezer as I can't think of any other way to store them but I'm trying to NOT put all the tomatoes in there. I'm rather paranoid about the possibility of the electricity being cut off due to snow or high wind and everything in the freezer turning to slush.

So, I'm trying out other methods of storing them.
It's a long while since I've had enough tomatoes to make passata making seem worthwhile but I'm on my third batch this year! The first didn't keep well - one jar started to turn mouldy, so the other is being kept in the fridge (not helpful if there's a power cut).
The second batch had olive oil floated over the passata before sealing and re-heating - maybe I shouldn't have re-heated as the oil just mixed in with the tomatoes!

I then decided to 'sun'dry some tomatoes - with the help of the top oven. I sliced them up, placed on baking paper on the grill and placed them in the unlit top oven while the bottom one was in use. I've used this method on apples but I left the tomatoes till they were much drier. The plum tomatoes with thicker sides and less pips seem to have worked better than the juicy steak tomatoes. They're all very leathery now and packed into a jar. They should be covered with oil but for now I'm seeing how well they will keep without it.
Today though, I'm back to making passata. Smaller jars, no oil on top and we'll see how well this batch keeps.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

More weird - and not so weird - preserving.

Our first frost of the year this week so had to clear lots of things at the allotment - too many crystal lemon cucumbers and lots of tiny, tiny green cherry tomatoes - plus we picked up some windfall apples through Freecycle which won't keep for long so really need to be used - so it was time for the jam pan to come out again!

Having had an unexpected success with courgette jam, I thought I'd try the same recipe with cucumber. Basically 2lb peeled, chopped cucumber simmered with 3 lemons and enough water to cover.

When the cucumber's softened, squash with the potato masher. Leave to cool, chop the lemons into thin strips, then measure the pulp. Add 1lb sugar to pint of pulp and either boil to setting point straight away or leave overnight to soak first. The lemon is definitely softer if left overnight.

It looks and tastes like a lemon marmalade - and the first batch was such a success, I'm now onto a second (simmering right now!)

The tomatoes were a different problem - the normal sized ones went into chutney with some of the apples

but any chutney made with the tiny cherry ones would have been full of skins so I decided to try Green Tomato Sauce - a strange thing of my own invention but really a sieved chutney.

It doesn't look very appetising - I used granulated sugar instead of demerara because my sugar stocks were getting low but obviously the reason so many chutney recipes call for demerara sugar is to improve the colour and appearance. It contains a fair amount of chillies and I'm thinking of using it as a last minute addition to curries. It's not been tested yet though.

Last but not least, the most normal thing this week - apple and blackberry jam!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Summer cotton cardigan

Finished at last!
The really tricky - and slow - bit was the crocheted edging. I'm still at the learning stage and have to have a 'How to Crochet' book handy to check on the different stitches which is why it takes such a long time.

Something didn't quite work out properly - the edging should have been more scalloped than this but I couldn't quite understand some of the instructions about putting the hook in several rows below.
Well, at least I finished it!
and I can have another go some time and get a different edging.

My next project looks like being a crocheted waistcoat,
so fingers crossed that that turns out ok!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Green Tomato Cake

Having heard weathermen talking about the possibility of snow next month, I thought I'd start clearing some of the unripe tomatoes - and brought home 11lbs!
I started to use them by making chutney - there's a particular green tomato one that I like to have with cheese in a hot baguette - but wondered if there was any other way to eat them. I put out query on Twitter and a very helpful person sent me 3 suggestions - one of which was green tomato cake.
I'm never one to refuse a culinary challenge so decided to have a go - unfortunately the recipe had too much butter and far too much sugar, so I decided to combine it with Delia's bara brith recipe as follows :

In a bowl beat 1 egg with 4oz sugar, then mix in 8 fluid oz milk. Sieve 10oz SR flour and a teaspoon each of baking powder, ground nutmeg and ground cinnamon, into the mixture and mix well. Finely chop 12oz green tomato and add to mix.
Pour into a greased, lined 2lb loaf tin and bake at Gas No 4 for 50 - 60 mins

Then the important bit - tasting!
Surprisingly nice. It was lovely and moist from the tomatoes and tasted mainly of the spices.
I don't think anyone would identify the mystery ingredient as tomato - apart from one drawback. When cut into slices, you can see green chunks! Not the normal appearance of cake! Maybe we're too set in our ways about how cake should look but if I made up this recipe again, I'd bake it in small muffin or fairy cake cases.